JAKE & CAKE To 27 March.


by Godfrey Hamilton.

Theatre Centre at:
The Broadway Barking 18 March 2pm.
TICKETS: 020 8507 5607.
then The Hawth Crawley 20 March 11am.
TICKETS: 01293 553636.
schools performances also to 27 March 2010.
Runs 45min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 March at Unicorn Theatre (Clore Theatre).

The importance of friends and myths.
What a misleading title. For this isn’t about a lad with a penchant for baking or consuming sweetmeats. Jake, dribbling his football and imagining soccer stardom, has moved from London to rural Essex, leaving his best friend behind. Cake is a local girl, forthright and energetic, loaded with a backpack and perhaps too assertive to form friendships. But she’s just what shy Jake needs, for she’s able to inject some sense of self-belief into him as they travel through the woods.

Their story is up-to-date and realistic, but Godfrey Hamilton’s script relates the pair to his far-away and long-ago prologue – set where “the sunset slides into the earth” – the story of a lost girl brought up by a wolf. Before Jake himself emerges with everyday speech, Hamilton has provided more formal, rhythmic language for this, a style echoed when the title characters mention the legend which nourishes their friendship.

Aimed at 6+, the piece aptly has characters going-on 9 years old, with a clear contrast between the enthusiastic Cake and nervous Jake (it is, after all, her home territory and not his), something evident from the performances in Natalie Wilson’s well-paced production.

It works well enough in a theatre, creating an imaginative environment, a world of animal sounds, with a painted wood background and three standing stones suggesting an ancient circle invested with supernatural power. In school halls or drama studio ether impact might be even greater, as a contrast within a familiar place. Both actors create credible and sympathetic characters, at one point alternating young humans with the loping tread of wolves.

What limits the impact is a sense of calculation behind the characters’ progress; they may be lost but the script is clearly headed towards the two satisfying each other’s need for friendship or self-confidence.

And, while there is plenty of physical activity, there’s also a lot of talking about feelings and experiences, rather than exploration of them directly through action. Still, Jake and Cake’s amiable performances and its mix of myth and modern, expressed through different linguistic registers, provides an intriguing slice of young people’s theatre.

Director: Natalie Wilson.
Designer/Music: Alice-Jane Lingwood.

Cast and full credits not available.

2010-03-18 10:24:42

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